Chocolate Cherry Almond Truffles

A Valentine's Day delight! These delicious truffles don't sacrifice taste for nutrition! Gluten free, dairy free, and vegan. And with almond butter and chickpeas (the secret ingredient), you're still getting plenty of protein and fiber. 

 

This recipe makes about 30 truffles (about the size of a melon baller).

Ingredients:

·       1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

·       1 tsp vanilla extract

·       1 tsp almond extract (for the cherry flavoring)

·       1/8 tsp baking soda 

·       4 tbsp of almond butter (or any other "nut" butter you'd like to substitute)

·       2/3 cup coconut palm sugar (low in glycemic index aka won't spike your blood sugars!)

·       1 tablespoon chia seeds 

·       1 cup chocolate chips (I use "Enjoy Life" brand for gluten free and dairy free reasons)

·       2 teaspoons coconut oil

Directions:

1. Add all ingredients (except chocolate chips and coconut oil - which will be used for outer coating) to food processor and blend until smooth.  Then form into balls and chill in the fridge.

2. Melt coconut oil and chocolate in double boiler (or be really careful not to let the pot get too hot and stir consistently otherwise the chocolate will burn). Take the balls from fridge and cover in chocolate.  Return to the fridge to allow outer coat to harden.  

3. ENJOY! .. just try not to eat them all yourself... they're pretty addicting :)

 

This recipe has been adapted from "Cookie Dough Truffle" recipe from Chocolate Covered Katie's blog.

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Crunchy Kale Chips

*Pictured above - kale chips before baking.

Ingredients:
1 bunch of curly kale (make sure it's not dino or lacinato kale - it won't crisp the same!)
2 Tbs olive oil
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 tsp salt

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Wash kale thoroughly and dry thoroughly.
2. Tear kale away from stem. Each kale piece should be chip sized.
3. Place kale, salt, olive oil and lemon into a bowl and mix together with your hands, gently massaging the kale with the oil, lemon and salt
4. Lay kale pieces flat out on a cookie sheet or pizza pan. Place in oven and set timer for 15 minutes and check.
5. Remove from oven and gently unstuck kale from pan if it has stuck and if needed, place in oven for another 5 minutes until kale is dry and crispy
6. Allow to cool. Can store in fridge for up to a week.

Tips:

·       Trader Joe's now carries pre-cut and washed kale pieces which speed up this process.

·       When placing kale on baking sheets, massage oil into kale so it cooks evenly.

·       Can also substitute vinegar for lemon for a salt and vinegar chip.

·       Can also substitute garlic salt, Braggs amino acids, and various flavorings for an extra flavorful treat - ENJOY!

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Mint Breeze Green Smoothie

Ingredients:

·       1 small banana (about 5")

·       2 handfuls spinach

·       1/2 cup coconut milk

·       1/2 cup mint leaves

·       1 tsp vanilla

Directions:

Blend all ingredients together in blender and enjoy! Can adjust proportions of coconut milk to have thicker/thinner smoothie. Makes about 8 ounces.

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Chia Seed Pudding

Chia seeds are a wonderfully nutrient dense food - with 0 net carbohydrates (1 tbsp provides 6 grams of fiber, however!), omega 3 fatty acids, and a complete protein! 

They also contain an abundance of minerals to keep your bones strong. 6 times more calcium than milk, 64% more potassium than a banana, 32% of your daily magnesium (more than broccoli), 6 times more iron than spinach, and more niacin than corn, rice & soy!

And just for an added benefit, chia seeds have powerful antioxidants. Antioxidants are incredibly important in cancer prevent! Chia seeds have double the amount antioxidants found in blueberries.

While there are an infinite amount of possibilities of ways to enjoy chia seeds, this is one of my favorite!

Ingredients:

·       4 TBSP chia seeds

·       3/4 cup coconut milk

·       1 tsp vanilla extract

·       1/2 banana, chopped

·       1/4 cup cocao nibs

·       1 tsp cinnamon

Directions:

Soak coconut seeds in coconut milk for 15-30 minutes - making sure to stir a few times. The chia seeds will begin to form a sort of "gel" that makes a perfect pudding!

Add vanilla extract and banana and top with cocao nibs and cinnamon. 

Enjoy for breakfast, lunch a great snack any time of the day!

Other variations: Include apples, berries, dried fruits, almonds, walnuts, nutmeg, etc.

Banana Bread

I was pleasantly surprised by how great this texture (and taste) turned out!

Sometimes I struggle with getting gluten free breads spongy and moist without overbaking, but this came out perfect. 

Ingredients:

1 cup mashed banana

1/2 cup coconut palm sugar

4 tablespoons coconut oil (melted)

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 eggs - or egg replace (I use Orgran "no egg" - 2 tsp mix + 4 tbsp water)

1& 3/4 cup gluten free flour (I used Pamela's Baking Mix)

2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 cup walnuts (optional to top)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Blend together oil, mashed banana, coconut palm, vanilla and egg replace.

Mix in flour and cinnamon.

Pour into greased (can use the coconut oil) 8" x 4" loaf pan. Sprinkle with walnuts and top with cinnamon. 

Bake for 1 hour, or when inserted toothpick comes out clean. 

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Strawberry Mint Lemonade

Ingredients:
• 10 ice cubes
• 10 strawberries
• 10 mint leaves
• 3 Tablespoons raw honey (note: do not feed honey to children under 1 year old)
• 2 lemons (juiced)
• flax oil (optional - but great if looking to add calories for kids)

Directions:
1. Add chopped strawberries, 8 mint leaves, lemon juice, and honey to blender with as little water as possible to blend. Blend until fully liquified.

2. Add flax oil (optional) and ice cubes. Blend until ice is completely crushed. (may need to stop and stir a couple of times, it is worth it for the texture).

3. Pour into glass and garnish with last mint leaves.

Strawberries are great for teeth and gums and full of antioxidants. Lemon juice helps to cleanse and strengthen the internal organs, regulate digestion, and promote sweating. Flax oil is great for all inflammation, including sunburn. Mint will relax you, and help to make you feel cooled down. Raw honey is a great way to sweeten food, while added living bacteria and enzymes!

Thank you to James Ray for sharing this incredibly yummy and creative recipe! :)

Chocolate Cranberry Cashew Treats

Ingredients:

·       1/2 cup cashews

·       1/4 cup cranberries

·       1/4 cup dates (about Medjool 4 dates, pitted)

·       1/2 lime juiced, freshly squeezed

·       + 3 tbsp cacao nibs for outside coating

Directions:

Blend cashews, cranberries, dates and lime juice in blender.  

Moisten hands (to prevent sticking) and use teaspoon to roll mixture into balls. Mixture should make about 20 one inch balls.

Place cacao nibs in separate bowl and roll balls to coat with cacao nibs.

Refrigerate and enjoy! :) 

Nutrition information, per  treat:
Calories: 30
Carbohydrates: 4 g
   Fiber: 0.75 g
   Sugar: 2 g
Protein: 0.75
Fat: 2 g

   

*Recipe adapted from the "Lara Bar" recipe at DAMY Health.   

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Vegan Zesty Ranch

I had really missed a creamy "Ranch" flavor for salads over the past few years. And then one day it just came to me - use Vegenaise! As the base, I created this "dressing" that matches perfectly with just about anything... salads, quinoa, as a dip for veggies, etc.

Ingredients:

·       1 cup Vegenaise

·       3 cloves of garlic - crushed

·       3 tsp hot sauce

·       2 tbsp coconut milk

·       Optional: cilantro leaves!

Directions:

Whisk all ingredients together with a fork and enjoy on any and everything!

*One of my favorite meals - sautéed vegetables with quinoa on a bed of baby spinach with the Vegan Zesty Ranch dressing. 

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Cheesy Kale Chips (or Salad) with a Kick!

Have you tried any of the delicious flavored kale chips that are now being produced commercially??

They are de-licious!! Only problem is that they're $5-6 for a tiny little bag (and yes, it makes sense that if you take a pound of kale, add in cashews and other high quality ingredients - the cost is high to produce these delicious morsels of kale goodness!) but I was inspired to try and create these myself and was very pleasantly surprised at how well they came out!

I used a dehydrator this time, so more of the nutrients were kept instead of being baked away. Best part - so quick and easy to make.

I was also surprised at how delicious this kale is RAW (no dehydrating or baking necessary), but eaten it as a salad.  The amazing, flavorful dressing makes it perfectly flavorful and have served it to others who  wouldn't have dreamed of using "kale" and "yummy" in the same sentence. But she changed her mind and asked for the recipe :) 

Ingredients:

·       1/2 cup cashews

·       3/4 cup chopped red bell pepper *(can adjust according to spiciness desired)

·       1/4 cup lemon juice

·       1 tbsp coconut palm sugar

·       2 tbsp nutritional yeast

·       1 tsp chili powder *(can adjust according to spiciness desired)

·       few dashes sea salt

·       1 bunch of kale OR Trader Joe's pre-washed & cut kale

Directions:

1. Put all ingredients together (besides kale) in food processor and blend until smooth to make the cheesy flavor "dressing." 

2. Use spatula to spoon out all dressing and mix thoroughly with kale. If using Trader Joe's bagged kale, use about 1/2 the bag.  If using a "bunch" of kale, remove stems and wash thoroughly, breaking apart kale leaves in "chip" size pieces.

I was tempted to stop here and actually HAVE eaten this just as a "kale salad" with this delicious, nourishing dressing. But if your intention is to make CHIPS - then we'll have to continue to the dehydrating step...

3. Take individual kale pieces covered in dressing and lay on dehydrator shelf.  I believe my chips dehydrated over night so they were perfectly crispy and flavor concentrated. Read the settings on your dehydrator to see what temperature and settings it recommends.

4. I found the most difficult step the SHARING part - they're SO good, it's easy to eat them all in one sitting :)

ENJOY!  

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Quick Quinoa

Quinoa is such a versatile grain that tastes great with just about anything you add in! And its considered a "superfood" for all of the nutrition it contains - a complete protein, healthy fats, fiber, B vitamins and loads of minerals - including iron. There are SO many different ways to prepare quinoa, but here's a quick and easy recipe to start.

*Note: my recipes for quinoa vary upon what vegetables are in my fridge. ALL veggies taste great with quinoa (even beets, which I quickly realized turn the WHOLE dish pink), so feel free to add in whatever you have!

Ingredients:

2 cups cooked quinoa (cooked in 4 cups water - bring to a boil and then allow to simmer until all water is gone)

1 cup chopped carrots

1 cup chopped tomatoes

1 cup chopped zucchini

1/2 cup cilantro

1/2 cup lemon juice

2 tbsp sesame oil (or olive oil)

1 can garbanzo beans

Directions:

While quinoa is cooking, chop up vegetables.  Allow quinoa to cool after cooking and mix chopped veggies in with quinoa! Serve and enjoy :)

*This picture is my leftover quinoa brought to the office the next day - garnished with 1/2 of an avocado and nutritional yeast... YUM! :)

Quick Quinoa.jpg

Delicious Creamy Vegan Ice Cream in less than 5 minutes!!

*Pictured above (from left to right): Banana Almond Butter Ice Cream, Banana Blueberry Ice Cream, and Banana Spinach Ice Cream (I swear, still yummy)! 

Ready to cool down from all of this summer heat?!  This ice cream is the perfect, delicious snack!! I was really happy with the consistency - it really is thick and creamy like soft serve ice cream! Choose whatever toppings and add-ins you enjoy - heck, even make it a meal with the protein packed almond butter.  You can even add in some spinach for a mineral infused treat :)  

Base Ingredients:

2 frozen bananas (when your old bananas are going bad, take the skin off and freeze the inside)

2 tablespoons almond butter (or peanut butter if you prefer)

1/2 cup coconut milk

1 tsp vanilla

*Variations pictured above: add in 1 cup blueberries or 1 cup spinach. 

 

Directions:

BLEND & ENJOY! 

Get creative and make some fancy garnishes - with berries, mint leaves, coconut whipped cream, cherries, etc!

Delicious Creamy Vegan Ice Cream in less than 5 minutes!!.jpg

Spicy Creamy Vegan Quinoa

This quick and easy recipe is really a combination of two previous posts.  First, I made some Quick Quinoa (with a few variations - pictured dish has peppers, beans, onions & zucchini) and found it missing something... it just seemed too bland! 

So to spice things up a bit, I added the delicious "dressing" Vegan Zesty Ranch to give it some spice and add a creamy texture. And VOILA - delicious!

Perfect lunch, dinner, or even anytime snack. Quinoa is a great snack since it is a complete protein - and very easily transportable in Tupperware! And to add some extra nutrients - try eating your quinoa on a bed of greens :) 

Spicy Creamy Vegan Quinoa.jpg

Creamy Peanut Butter Smoothie

Blend all ingredients and feel free to adjust coconut milk ratio for thicker/thinner smoothie.

Ingredients:

·       3 cups spinach

·       1 cup coconut milk

·       2 tbsp peanut butter

·       2 tsp vanilla extract

·       2 ripe bananas (can be fresh or frozen)

Genius Idea!

For Us Peanut Lovers~

Peanut Butter Hummus

Ingredients:

·       1 can (15 oz) garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

·       4 tbsp creamy peanut butter

·       1 tbsp olive oil

·       Fresh lemon juice (squeezed from 1 lemon)

·       1/3 cup water

·       1 tsp garlic powder

 

Directions:

Mix all ingredients in a food processor. 

OR if you'd like to include children in this process:

Place the garbanzo beans in the bottom of a large non-breakable mixing bowl.  Begin mashing the beans using a potato masher.  If making the recipe with children, allow each child to take a turn mashing the beans.  Gradually add the remaining ingredients and continue to mash until the mixture is blended and smooth.

*For dipping:

·       Celery, carrot, zucchini, cucumber, red or green peppers or jicama sticks.  Can also serve with tortillas or tortilla chips.

·        

Source: "How to Teach Nutrition to Kids" by Connie Liakos Evers, MS, RD.

Kid Favorite

Carrots make great dipping sticks

Cashew Carrot Pate

This creamy veggie dip is so delicious, you won't even miss the dairy! :)

This creamy veggie dip is so delicious, you won't even miss the dairy! :)

Ingredients:

2-3 cloves garlic, diced

1 slice of sweet onion

2 carrots, peeled and chopped

1 cup cashews

sea salt ,to taste

1/4 C. olive oil

 

Directions:

1. In a food processor, using the "S" shaped blade, blend the garlic, onion and carrots into a fine consistency.

2. Add cashews and process with the remaining ingredients. Stop periodically and scrape the sides with a rubber spatula. Blend until creamy.

3. Chill and serve.

Variation: Try using soaked almonds or sunflower seeds instead of cashews.

Replace the oil with a little water to help the ingredients blend together.

Grain-free Chocolate Chip Blondies....(with Chickpeas)

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Most people would never guess that these delicious gluten & dairy free (also vegan) blondies are made with chickpeas! No one would ever notice the extra fiber with this nice thick & chewy density. If you're a fan of a more of a cakey-consistency, add an egg!

Ingredients:

  • Cooking Spray

  • 1 can (15 oz) chickpeas, rinsed and drained

  • 1/2 cup all natural almond butter or peanut butter

  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup or agave nectar (you can also use honey if you're not vegan)

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

  • 1/2 tsp salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1/3 cup vegan (or regular) chocolate chips plus 2 tablespoons

  • sea salt, for sprinkling

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and spray 8x8 inch pan with nonstick cooking spray.

  2. In a food processor, add all ingredients except chocolate chips and process until batter is smooth. Fold in 1/3 cup of chocolate chips, I like to use dark chocolate because it has less sugar but it's up to you. Note: Batter will be thick and super delicious, so you could actually just eat it on it's own!

  3. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan then sprinkle 2 tablespoons of chocolate chips on top. (The batter may stick to your spatula, so I like to spray my spatula with nonstick cooking spray first.) Bake for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean and edges are a tiny bit brown. The batter may look underdone, but you don't want them to dry out!

  4. Cool pan for 20 minutes on wire rack. Sprinkle with sea salt then cut into squares. Makes 16 blondies.

Enjoy! Your biggest challenge will be to share these delicious treats :) 

Brilliant recipe from:  Ambitious Kitchen .

Brilliant recipe from: Ambitious Kitchen.

Festive Mint Green Smoothie

Mint Green Smoothie


Who doesn't love a good festive celebration? And how about a celebration that actually helps you feel healthier and not hungover the day after? With just these few ingredients, you're sure to love this mint green smoothie!

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 banana

  • 4 dates (take the pit out)

  • 1/2 cup mint

  • 1 & 1/2 cup spinach

  • 2 cups vanilla (unsweetened) hemp milk

  • 2 tablespoons hemp seeds (or other favorite nut/seed or pro powder)

Directions:

  1. Dump all ingredients into high-speed blender and blend together!

  2. Enjoy!

Spaghetti Squash "Pasta"

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Spaghetti squash is an often overlooked alternative to pasta! Great for diabetics who are looking to decrease their carbohydrates and for anyone looking to eat gluten free. This tasty dish is also high in fiber and low in calories (just 40 calories for a CUP of spaghetti squash).

Here's how to make you spaghetti squash a delicious pasta!

Step 1: Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. And for the most difficult step - to cut the squash open length-wise, you've got to use some muscles!  After breaking open, clean out the seeds and guts (you can also set aside seeds for baking later).

Step 2. Flip squash (cut side down) in about 1/2 inch of water in a baking pan.  Put in oven to bake for about 45 minutes.

Step 3. Take out of oven and pull apart with fork to check if finished cooking.  When finished, the "spaghetti" strands will pull apart easily when fork combs through. 

Step 4. When finished cooking, top with your favorite spaghetti toppings - tomato sauce, meat sauce, sauteed veggies, salt, pepper, etc - and ENJOY! 

Cauliflower "Pizza" Crust

Not only is this crust gluten free, but also grain and yeast free and delicious!! Super easy to make, and low in carbohydrates. 

 
Ingredients:

·         2.5 cups ground cauliflower florets (about 1 small head)

·         1 cup almond flour

·         3 eggs

·         4 cloves garlic, minced

·         2 teaspoons onion powder

·         2 teaspoons dried oregano

·         Toppings: may include: Daiya (vegan cheese), sausage (or chicken sausage), sauteed spinach/onions, tomato sauce or any of your favorite pizza toppings!)

 

Directions:

1.       Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. 

2.       Chop cauliflower and throw in food processor until consistency is not pureed, but still chopped. Put chopped cauliflower in cheesecloth (or you can use paper towels) to drain water from cauliflower. 

3.       Whisk 3 eggs together and mix the rest of the crust ingredients together and form into a ball.  It shouldn't be too wet at this point but If it’s too sticky to handle add more almond flour. Gently knead it a few times, adding some almond flour on top if necessary to help it come together. (note – this will NOT resemble regular pizza dough – it won’t be as easy or pliable to work with – that’s okay).

4.       Press “dough” ball down onto a pizza stone or baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Gently mold into a circle, dusting a bit more flour if it makes it easier for you to work with. I was able to lift mine up and flip it over a few times to get it to spread (if yours sticks and you can’t lift it off the pan, it’s still ok). Try to spread it to be a little less than 1/4 inch thick.


5.       Crust needs to be baked for 25-30 minutes total, and then top with your favorite toppings and sauces! If you’re making a pizza with cheese or tomato sauce, bake crust for approx. 15 minutes, then top with sauce and other toppings and bake for 10-15 minutes more. (oven times may vary depending on your oven or consistency of your “dough”). ENJOY!

 

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Cauliflower

Not pureed, but chopped fine

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note – this will NOT resemble regular pizza dough – it won’t be as easy or pliable to work with – that’s ok

Spread it to be a little less than 1/4 inch thick before baking.

Add your Favorite Pizza Toppings… and enjoy

Add your Favorite Pizza Toppings… and enjoy

Bone Broth

Did you know...? Bone broth is one of the most mineral rich source of nourishment for humankind throughout the ages! It is a traditional remedy across cultures for the sick and weak. A classic folk treatment for colds and flu, it has also been used historically for ailments that affect connective tissues such as the GI tract, joints, skin, lungs, muscle, bones and blood. Bone broth is a valuable food and valuable medicine!

It contains nutrients from both the bone and cartilage of the animal, including:

·         Protein

·         Minerals: magnesium, sodium, calcium, sulfur, potassium, phosphorus

·         Amino acids: proline, lysine, glycine

·         And several other nutrients great for joints and connective tissue (including intestines): keratin sulfate, hyaluronic acid, hydroxyproline, hydroxylysine and chondroitin sulfate

Ingredients:

Bones - from poultry, fish, beef or lamb (can be cooked bones, raw bones, a whole carcass, or just parts)
Water - cold water, enough to just cover the bones OR 2 cups water per 1 lb bones
Vinegar (apple cider, red or white wine, rice or balsamic vinegar) - a splash, or 2 tbsp per quart water

 

Directions:

Combine bones, water and vinegar in a pot or crockpot. Bring to a simmer, remove any scum that has risen to the top, reduce heat and simmer (anywhere from 6-48 hours for chicken, 12-72 hours for beef).

If using a crockpot, you can put it on a "low" setting and just walk away for 12-24 hours.

Strain broth through a colander or sieve, lined with cheesecloth for a clearer broth. Discard the bones.

If you wish to remove the fat for use in gravy, use a gravy separator while broth is warm, or skim the fat off the top once refrigerated. Broth may be frozen for months or kept in the refrigerator for about 5 days.

Bone broth can also be used for: the base of soups, cooking liquid (instead of water, add to rice, beans or other grains), gravy, or tea.

Reference for bone broth: Soaring Crane Natural Health.